Sunday, September 5, 2010

Post: Sep. 5

When I was three years old, I told my dad I wanted to be a rock star when I grew up. My musical journey has taken a different direction since then (with no regrets). However, I was able to live out that childhood dream in Pondicherry on Saturday night. The SAM faculty performed at a rock/pop/metal festival called Jipmer Spandan, which was held at a medical college campus. It was an a steamy outdoor gig under bright stage lights. We played one of my all-time favourite songs, Hyperballad by Bjork, and, as I mentioned in my last post, songs by Radiohead, The Killers, and Stevie Wonder (all who also happen to be some of my favourite artists). We snuck in a Kenny Wheeler tune and some fusion tunes as well. The guys sounded great and it was really fun to perform with them again. The awesome students from SAM crowded up at the front of the stage and cheered us on. What a cool experience.

The bus that drove us all into Pondicherry was not so glamourous. There were at least four times when I thought to myself, "This is it. This is how we're going out!". Our chariot was a rickety banana bus that looked like it had been around for a few decades at least. The gears made a lovely, high-pitched grinding/squealing sound every time our driver changed gears. I doubt the brakes were that great either. Oh, and no AC to boot! It was a long, bumpy ride to Pondicherry. Usually the drive is about an hour and fifteen minutes. It took at least two hours to get there yesterday. On the way back to Tapovan we had a slightly more modern-looking bus with the same driver. We had a few more narrow misses. I've found the best way to cope with the terror-fraught travel here is to completely space out and try to avoid looking ahead. But sometimes it's hard NOT to look!

On a more somber note, tomorrow is Randy's funeral in Chennai. Afterwards I'll probably be staying overnight in Chennai as we're lined up to do some adjudicating of a rock competition over Monday and Tuesday and my slot is Tuesday morning. I don't know what to do tomorrow afternoon and evening in Chennai. I'll probably be on my own with a driver. Any suggestions?


  1. Sarah -

    Since you're in Chennai with a driver available, here are a few places that Hansi and I visited. The Myalore Kapaleeswarar Temple is amazing and shows what the old temples probably looked like in their day. St. Andrews Church (1821) is interesting from a historical standpoint and the Guindy Reptile Park is, well, full of reptiles, what can I say?

    Hansi and I can verify your bus experiences - we rode a bus down from Shimla, up in the Himalayas, to Chandigarh; navigating the switchback road with no guardrails in the company of lots of other buses and trucks, not to mention the rest of the traffic . . . still and all, we do miss it!

    Continue to love your blog, Rob.

  2. I can imagine your Dad's reaction when you told him you wanted to be a rock star . "On my own in Chennai with a driver"...did you ever imagine you'd be saying those words?? You're a great writer, Sarah! Thanks for keeping us informed of your amazing experience.

  3. Thanks, Jan! Nope, definitely never expected to find myself saying that! :) Actually in the end, I wasn't alone with the driver. One of the students came along for the day to keep me company which made it a great day. Good conversation = distraction from hair-raising traffic!

  4. Hi Rob, thanks for the sight-seeing tips. As it turned out I wasn't in Chennai on Monday or Tuesday as long as I thought and didn't have the opportunity to check them out. Those places sound amazing though and Chennai isn't far, relatively speaking, so next time!

    One of the students was telling me about a family vacation he took to a skiing area in the north. His mother was crying through the whole drive, she was so scared as their bus was winding up the mountain side. Your experience sounds even crazier!